ALLAN McGREGOR is proud of his Rangers journey that has taken him from youth academy prospect to number 1 goalkeeper and he hopes Robby McCrorie can enjoy a similar path with the Light Blues.
The 38-year-old was impressed with Robby from the very first training session they took together and says his loan move to Livingston this season will undoubtedly make him a better player.
Allan, who beat Barry Ferguson’s all-time European appearance record with the club last week when he featured against Standard Liege, enjoyed loan spells with St Johnstone and Dunfermline early in his career and says Robby will benefit hugely from the experience.
Speaking in an exclusive interview for The Rangers Youth Development Company – who have provided almost £9 million to the Academy since 2002 – Allan said: “I rate Robby very highly. The first day I came in, when we were in Spain for pre-season, he looked very, very good. I was really impressed by him so hopefully he can progress, move on, keep his feet on the ground and do really well.
“He is doing what I did and going out and playing. He has probably played a lot more games than me at that age so it can only be beneficial for him.
“I said to Robby and Colin Stewart (goalkeeping coach) that it is a must. To go and get experience and play for something.
“I think it will be really good for his career, massively beneficial for him. A lot of young guys are away on loan to get experience and that can only be beneficial for the club and the players.
“Looking back on my own start at Rangers, I was with Hutcheson Vale boys club in Edinburgh and we used to train at Cramond the same time Rangers did.
“I got the chance to train with them a couple of times and I must have done alright as Jim Dorney took me through to train on the Astroturf across from Ibrox. That started once a week then progressed from twice a week and the development league on Sundays.
“The 18s or 19s goalkeepers – Neil Inglis and Mikey Rae - used to come down and train with us across from Ibrox at that time and it progressed from there.
“It is difficult to break through and there were no transfer windows so any club could buy anybody at any time.
“But you come here and you get the best coaching. Alan Hodgkinson was here at the time and it was just the beginning of the era of full-time goalkeeping coaches.
“So that was a big factor as well in coming to Rangers.
“Both loan spells were beneficial. If I never did it would I have got the chance to play? I don’t know. So it definitely was the best thing and is for any young kid really.
“Playing games is a priority.
“St Johnstone was the first six months of 2004/05 and I came back to Rangers for the second half of that season, which was very good!
“You are itching to play but at that age I knew the script and Stefan Klos and Ronald Wattereus were going to play regardless.
“You have to take that on the chin, keep working away in training and try and show the gaffer you are good enough.
“Training with Stefan and Ronald helped me progress and so did watching them before games.
“Stefan was very quiet and would focus and just get on with his job. That really stuck with me to be honest with you. That concentration he had.
“The dedication and focus he had before games. He didn’t say a lot but he was always up for the game.
“He led by example and I would look and see what he did.
“I was injured for about 18 months when I was younger aged 17 and that held me back a wee bit.
“When Alex McLeish came in I got my chance, in the January or February of 2002.”
Allan’s early development at Rangers was assisted by annual RYDC donations to the club. Profits from their portfolio of products – which include Rangers Lotto, Rangers Bricks and Scratchcards – have gone to the Academy since 2002 and another substantial donation will go to the club in early 2021.
McGregor is thankful for the opportunities he has been given at Rangers and is heartened to see youth players like Nathan Patterson getting the chance with Steven Gerrard’s first-team.
He continued: “It’s good to give the boys the best chance they can have to make it.
“It’s about realising what a chance you have here and I think we have seen the years the gaffer has been here, he has not been shy in playing any young boys.
“That must be a great boost for him as well.
“Nathan has done really well and there is always a few young boys training with us as well so it must give them a boost too.
“Guys like Nathan, Jamie Barjonas, Ciaran Dickson and Lewis Mayo – although he is out on loan now – and Glenn Middleton. Obviously it’s good for the youth side to see them coming up and taking part.
“You probably don’t realise how good the facilities are at Rangers until you are not here anymore.
“You are trying to drive people to get to the first-team. Honestly, once you move away from here you soon realise the facilities are not the same.
“You need to work hard but you should never stop training the way you want to play and never stop trying to better yourself.
“Even at my age you just keep going and going and going and try and better yourself all the time.
“Of course I am still motivated, you need to be when you are playing for this club.
“There is only one thing to do and that is to win.
“I think you probably reflect on things when you are not playing any more. Just now I am focused on training and doing my job and trying to win every game.
“I try my best every day and training and I hope that rubs off on people.”
Allan and a host of first-team players from the past like Alan Hutton, Charlie Adam, Chris Burke, Mo Ross and Steven Smith have all benefitted directly from RYDC support and you can play your part in assisting the Academy.
Rangers Lotto is their most successful product and you can sign up HERE
Watch the full interview with Allan McGregor below